To tell the truth it had not been patriotism that had carried Ikey Rosenmeyer and his friends into the Navy. At that time the United States was not in the war, and the four friends had thought little of the pros and cons of the world struggle.
They thought they had had enough school, and there was no steady and congenial work for them about Seacove. Entering the Navy had been a lark in the offing.
As soon as they had joined, they found that they had entered another school, and one much more severe and thorough than the Seacove High School. They were learning something pretty nearly all the time, both in the training school and aboard the Colodia. And there was much to learn.
However, Whistler and Al took the work more seriously than their younger mates. They were studying gunnery, and hoped to get into the gun crew of the Kennebunk for practice if they were fortunate enough to cruise on that ship. Just at present Frenchy and Ikey Rosenmeyer were more engaged in getting all the fun possible out of existence.
The thing that delighted the latter most was the way in which his father treated him. Mr. Rosenmeyer had been a stern parent, and had opposed Ikey’s desire to enlist in the Navy. He always declared he needed the boy to help in the store and to take out orders. Ikey had got so that he fairly hated the store and its stock in trade. Pigs feet and sauerkraut and dill pickles were the bane of his life.
Now that he was at home on leave, Mr. Rosenmeyer would not let Ikey help at all in the store. If a customer came in, the fat little storekeeper heaved himself up from his armchair and bade Ikey sit still.
“Nein! It iss not for you, Ikey. Don’t bodder ’bout the store yet. We haf changed de stock around, anyvay, undt you could not find it, p’r’aps, vot de lady vants. Tell us again, Ikey, apout shootin’ de camouflage off de German raider-poat, de Graf von Posen. Mebby-so de lady ain’t heardt apout it yet. I didn’t see it in de paper meinselluf.”
So Ikey, thus urged, spun the most wonderful yarns regarding his adventures; and he was not obliged to “draw the long bow”; for the experiences of him and his three friends had been exciting indeed.
Mr. Rosenmeyer had become as thoroughly patriotic as he once had been pro-German. It was a great cross to him now that he could not learn to speak English properly. But German names he abhorred and German signs he would no longer allow in the store. He even put a newly-printed sign over the sauerkraut barrel which read: “Liberty Cabbage.”
Into the store on a misty morning rolled Frenchy Donahue in his most pronounced Old Salt fashion. Frenchy had acquired such a sailorish roll to his walk, that Al Torrance hinted more than once that the Irish lad could not get to sleep at night now that he was ashore until his mother went out and threw several buckets of water against his bedroom window.